Tell Me About Yourself – how to answer it

Preparing for Interviews?  What is The Worst Interview Question Ever?  Tell Me About Yourself.  Having recently completed three days of back-to-back interviews where this question was asked of all the candidates with wildly varying degrees of answer quality I feel I should share with you the CORRECT way to answer this question.

What are they really asking?

First off, Tell Me About Yourself is Interviewer code for Why Should We Hire You? So while it may be important to you, the interviewers do not want to hear about your social life, favourite hobbies, whether you are in a relationship or not, how many siblings or kids you have or what your sister does for a living.

What DO they want to hear?

They want to hear your assessment of why you feel you have what it takes to do the job well.  And they would like that summarised in a maximum of three minutes.  You should lead with your trump card. If you are a recent graduate with little relevant work experience you will lead with a summary of your recent Education.  If you feel that your Work and Career Experience to date are what got you the interview then you will lead with a summary of that.


Next up are Skills.  You can bet your first months salary that the interviewer has a sheet in front of them with a list of skills or competencies they are looking for in each candidate.  The job description will most likely have mentioned skills such as teamworking, initiative, motivation, working accurately to deadlines, managing client relationships etc….  Doesn’t it make sense to tell them that you have all of these, even before they get a chance to ask you in more detail?  Of course it does.  It shows you know what they want and can give it to them.  Remember you are answering “Why Should We Hire You?” 

Most people I work with fear that telling an interviewer “I am excellent at managing profitable client relationships and have been successfully managing and motivating a team for the last 5 years” will make them sounds brash and full of themselves.  It won’t. It will make you sound as if you can do the job.

What Do You Want? – What Can you Do For Them?

The final part of the Tell Me About Yourself answer should focus on telling them that you understand their business and that you are confident that you can add value to it.  Leave them thinking that it’s all about what you can do for them – not what they can do for you.

And don’t think that you can wing it and that a great answer will trip off the tongue in an interview.  It needs to be practised – out loud.  If you can impress the interviewer with an answer of this quality then the rest of the interview will be a breeze.

Contact Sinead for advice on Interview Preparation and Interview Training



  1. What those job interview questions really mean « gradireland - [...] According to career consultant Sinead English it’s ‘Tell Me About Yourself’. But, she explains on her blog, there is ...
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